Notes from the high chair.

I should warn you, this will go on for a while. Not today, but I’ll be processing the experience of my summer employment for a while.

I don’t know about you guys, but this last winter about broke me in two. I decided I wanted to spend the warm months a) outside as much as possible; and b) around young people. After reading a few stories about the shortage of lifeguards and the role of geezers in filling the gap, I thought, what the hell, go for it.

It so happened a waterpark in Detroit offered the best deal: A whole $15/hour, which stood in contrast to my own suburb, which was offering, I shit you not, $11.10. Most of the other clubs, parks and municipal pools were in that neighborhood. I think it was the dime added to that eleven bucks that bugged me the most. You could make more, a lot more, at any fast-food joint in town, but then, it’s lifeguarding, the cool summer job. Right?

Wrong. While there are some kids who still want to sit in the sun twirling a whistle and getting a tan, a lot are polishing their college application essays with fulfilling social work, volunteering, etc. It so happened I met another lifeguard at the top of the water slides a couple weeks ago, when a trio of well-built, supremely confident and otherwise cocky teen boys – which is to say, I pegged them for Grosse Pointers at a glance – came through for a few runs while I was posted as topside traffic cop. One was wearing board shorts with GUARD on one leg.

“You working?” I asked him, and he nodded yes, at the Detroit Yacht Club. “What are you making there?” Twelve bucks an hour to start. I told him he’d earn $15 here, but he’d earn every penny. “How many saves have you had this summer?” I asked. “For the whole club? Maybe four?” he answered.

“One of our guards had five in one day,” I told him, and pushed his tube into the flume. Down he went into the three-foot catch pool, where it was pretty common to have to fish frightened children and adults of shaky physical confidence out, or at least boost them to their feet so they could make their way to the steps.

I forgot to mention another reason I took the training and looked for this job: I’m interested in swimming as a social-equity issue. The data is plain: Children of color are far more likely to lack water skills, and drown disproportionately. The NYT had an excellent essay a couple weeks ago that explored the reasons, which are mostly understandable to anyone who’s lived a few summers: Lack of pool water, lack of a swimming tradition, lack of a swimming culture, lack of swimming role models, and a long history of discrimination at the gate to the inviting blue water beyond. Something I learned in my reading this summer: Faced with court orders to desegregate pools in the ’60s and ’70s, many cities just shut them down, permanently. White kids moved to private clubs and backyard pools. Black kids did without. And it shows in drowning statistics.

They told us in training that most guests can’t swim. We did everything to keep them safe; free life jackets for anyone who asked, little kids kept behind the three-foot line, but still, a day with no rescues was pretty uncommon. These weren’t dramatic Baywatch saves, but just jumping in and pulling someone into shallower water, where they could stand up. Even then, some people would, and did, panic and have to work to calm down. My first save, I jumped into the water after a girl who had slipped off her inner tube when the waves started up in the wave pool, and by the time I got to her, someone had already pulled her to safety. My last, a kid got that look — chin in the air, panic on his face — and I tossed him my rescue tube without going in myself. He grabbed it, pulled himself to the wall, said thanks and worked his way down into a safer depth. Very little high drama.

It made me think, a lot, about how I learned to swim, at the Devon Road pool in Upper Arlington, Ohio. The main pool, a rectangle, sloped from baby-pool depth to nine feet, and there were two ropes dividing it. To earn the right to pass the first rope, you had to pass Turtle B in the Red Cross swimming lessons everyone took (easy), but to make it past the second and into the deep end, you had to pass Turtle C, which required you swim back and forth across the width of the pool with only a touch at the wall in between, no resting. I had a hard time my first couple of tries, while my friends who passed were given the golden ticket to not only the deep end, but the real prize — the diving pool. It was a truly memorable moment when I finally made it, and collected the vinyl badge my mom would sew onto my swimsuit. I have been comfortable in water ever since, and the older I get, the more precious pool time is to me; it’s a profound pleasure of not only summer, but the whole year. Why swim for exercise? The older you get, the more it becomes the one thing you can do that doesn’t hurt.

But here’s something that occurred to me as the summer wore on: One reason swimming skills are still too rare? Waterparks themselves. The Devon Road pool had no slides, no splash pads, no wave machines. The deepest water at the park where I worked was six feet, and most people never went that far. But the rest of the park was shallow and inviting to people who couldn’t swim a stroke, and as I twirled my whistle and watched over it, I thought of the waterparks I’d been in, and had been built in the decades since I passed Turtle C. Kate and I would visit Soak City at Cedar Point when she tired of riding roller coasters, where she’d go down slide after slide and I’d float on the various lazy-river attractions. Affluent suburbs are less likely to build traditional swimming pools and more likely – at least around here, with months of cold weather to endure – to install indoor facilities with few lap-swimming lanes but lots of play opportunities for kids with February cabin fever. They’re fun, absolutely they are, but they don’t have much of a barrier to entry beyond buying a ticket.

Our park was on the east side, in Detroit. Suburban families would come sometimes, usually early in the day, and I learned to spot the Grosse Pointe kids pretty early. They all swam like Michael Phelps. You had to be four feet tall to ride the slides, but I waved through more than a few borderline kids who’d proved they could get from splashdown to the exit steps with three or four perfect strokes of freestyle. “You swim really well,” I’d tell them. “Yeah, I swim on my team,” they’d reply, the dead giveaway. One mother told me the Grosse Pointe pools started lessons for kids around 3, and there were plenty enrolled. (Well, it is a boating community, and it’s a life skill.)

One day, my shift ended with a break, and I thought I’d get a jump on closing duties by doing a few of the little chores we were expected to do — picking up trash, collecting abandoned life jackets, etc. I was in a remote area of the deck when came up on two women who were clearly getting high, although they were trying to hide it.

“Can you swim?” one asked.

“Well, I’m a lifeguard, so I’d better,” I replied.

“I should learn,” she said. “I never did. I should do that one of these days.”

“Yeah, you should,” I told her. “You never know when you’ll fall out of a boat.”

She looked a little startled. But it’s true. It’s a life skill. Life-saving, actually, every time you get in the water.

More later. It was a fun summer.

Posted at 8:40 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

44 responses to “Notes from the high chair.”

  1. Jeff Gill said on August 27, 2023 at 8:49 pm

    I went past REI on my way “home” from church, and they had an interesting display at the entry about this initiative:

    Making the same point about nature familiarity and equity you did about swimming. When I was a church camp director for 3-4-5th graders, the ethnic divide was obvious, often discussed, but beyond conversations I could have with my Black clergy friends about how and why we might encourage & facilitate their church kids in coming to camp, it was a frustrating barrier. The big breach we made: fishing. If we foregrounded fishing, that was a familiar and family activity that would help kids imagine themselves doing a week at a sleep-away camp.

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  2. Joe Kobiela said on August 27, 2023 at 9:09 pm

    Learned to swim at the Garrett pool which was built by the w.p.a and is still open. Betty Gordon who must have been 150 yrs old and Dick Capin the head football coach were the instructors.We started before Memorial Day, and the pool was not heated some very cold mornings. Had a swim team it was fun to go swim against Fort Wayne teams, won a few lost a few. I thing you shouldn’t be able to graduate high school with out knowing how to swim. Can never remember not knowing how to swim and still love the water, especially the clean spring fed lakes in north east Indiana, glad you had a good summer.
    Pilot Joe

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  3. Sherri said on August 27, 2023 at 9:24 pm

    I never really learned to swim. I had swimming lessons a couple of times as a kid, but two weeks of lessons isn’t enough to teach you to swim if you don’t get any opportunity to swim otherwise. I never lived closer than about 10 miles to a city pool, and my mother was not comfortable was just dropping my younger brother and me off at the pool and leaving us, and she wasn’t interested in sitting around a pool, so we seldom went to the pool.

    I made sure my daughter could swim, though, with many weeks of lessons and then swim team. It did help that we have always lived within a mile of a city pool. (And the one in Redmond is indoors, so swimming was not just a summer activity.)

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  4. alex said on August 27, 2023 at 9:26 pm

    I remember graduating to the diving “L” at some point in late grade school and spending all of my time there. And then one day I did a bellyflop from the high dive and it was such an unpleasant experience that I never worked up the nerve to go back.

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  5. Suzanne said on August 27, 2023 at 10:31 pm

    I took swim lessons as a kid but never really learned how to do it. We had nowhere to practice swimming. We had no pool, any public pool was too far away to be convenient, and nowhere else to swim. I also have terrible eyesight, so swimming was scary to me. Without my glasses, I could not see the other side of the pool. Lakes were even worse. Couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me and it was very disorienting.

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  6. Heather said on August 27, 2023 at 11:27 pm

    I had some swimming lessons in school but never really took to it. Started going to lap swim at Chicago’s public pools around the time I turned 40. I taught myself watching other swimmers and videos online. I’m not super fast and I still can’t do a flip turn, but I can swim for a long time. And it’s fun, which is the main thing. I go a couple of times a week, alternating with strength training. Now my body really craves it. I don’t think I have the confidence or the skills to be a lifeguard, so good on you, Nancy.

    Chicago’s outdoor pools closed on August 20, which is way too early in my opinion, especially since hot weather now regularly continues through September. And my gym’s indoor pool is closed for maintenance this week. At least we have the lake.

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  7. Mark P said on August 28, 2023 at 12:59 am

    It’s pretty common here to see a report about a young man drowning in one of the lakes around here. They go under and never come up. Sometimes it’s a kid that decides to swim across the lake, and sometimes it’s someone who’s just splashing around. It seems that many times the name is Hispanic.

    Until around 1987 Georgia Tech required a course called drownproofing. It was not a swimming course., it was intended to teach people to survive in deep water as long as they could remain conscious. I don’t know how much it would help a kid panicking in a pool, but maybe it would.

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  8. jerry said on August 28, 2023 at 1:53 am

    Following on yesterday’s discussion of jury service, which I’ve just read.

    I’ve been called for jury service five times now. You are called for a nominal two weeks although your term may be shorter or longer. Probably sat on a dozen cases ranging from theft through threatened assault with a hammer to a man charged with sexual abuse of his daughters – luckily on that case there was a problem and the jury was discharged and I wasn’t called onto the second jury. Talking afterwards to one of the jurors he said he been sleeping really badly after hearing evidence from the daughters, now grown.

    The strangest thing was the last time when I was on a jury and found one of the jurors lived the other side of the road from me for twenty years and we had never even seen each other before!

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  9. Deborah said on August 28, 2023 at 2:17 am

    Ah, swimming lessons. Growing up in Miami I had lessons every summer and every summer I started over as a beginner. I could save myself from drowning if it ever came to that (I think) but that was all I could do. I never felt comfortable in water, neither of my midwest farm raised parents could swim but they realized it was important to know how.

    We went to the beach a lot as teenagers with our friends but hardly ever went in the water except to cool off for a few minutes while sunbathing. I had friends who were super swimmers who competed at top levels, I always envied their comfort and confidence. The only thing I was good at in the water was floating on my back, which given the skin and bones I was as a kid, it’s a wonder.

    I made sure LB knew how to swim, she learned early from a friend’s teenaged daughter, those friends had a pool. LB was scared at first but she quickly became a fish gliding through the water with ease.

    Sounds like a fun summer, Nancy. Given the poor pay though, it’s no wonder they have a hard time finding enough lifeguards, obviously.

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  10. Dexter Friend said on August 28, 2023 at 2:29 am

    Dad taught me to doggie-paddle in Pretty Lake, and I just learned the various strokes with other kids in the lakes. We got to go to the Garret pool like Joe did, but only a few times a summer in the 1950s. There was a chlorine freezing cold walk-through area that local kids refused to walk through, skimming along the walls on a little ledge.
    I received some good training in the South China Sea by Spec. 4th class Sampsel, an Ohio State grad who volunteered for the army. At OSU, he swam intramural meets or however that worked there. He was trained well and he pointed out mistakes and bad form I utilized. I became a strong ocean swimmer and would venture way out off the shore line. I found out Krait snakes had adapted to the water over the decades, centuries maybe. Kraits were unknown to us, we’d see them in the water all the time. The army never told us they were highly poisonous if they got mad and bit us. Little kids would snatch the baby snakes up and play with them. The world is a strange and beautiful place. And sea snakes are really real, just not here, except in Hawaii. The banded Krait is the one that popped up right in my face and freaked me the HELL out, but it did not bite me.

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  11. David C said on August 28, 2023 at 5:56 am

    I “learned to swim” at Camapau Lake and Septic System. It didn’t go well. A big part of it was being told to stick my head under water. I was probably eight years old and even at the age my reaction was “in this?”. To this day, if I’m in a pool, I can’t stand to get my face under water. I did get something out of it. Swimmer’s itch. We did have a pool but it was small and not really good for much more than soaking. So I’m a good soaker but not much of a swimmer.

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  12. Jessica W said on August 28, 2023 at 8:40 am

    We moved to then-not-so-plush Palo Alto in the mid-50s, when I was six. Suddenly there were local pools, not just crowded beaches like Jones Point and Coney Island. Once we persuaded our parents to join the pool we spent many summer hours there. Back then you could walk the 1/3 mile there on your own.

    The pool offered nearly-free swimming classes which were excellent. I will never forget how it felt the first time I was actually floating, not pushing myself through the water. The restricted area with a test and a badge scheme was in force and everybody had to get out of the pool for ten minutes an hour for Adult Swim where boring old people did boring laps.

    The junior high and high school both had pools used for PE classes and swim teams. A few kids in my class had to learn to swim at school to pass PE. Most of those kids came from the trailer park. Yes, a trailer park in Palo Alto. I am not making this up. Not there any more.

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  13. A different Connie said on August 28, 2023 at 8:52 am

    I recently saw this article, which is pushing a certain program, but has some excellent criticism of traditional methods. Like Suzanne said above, I think poor vision is a large part of my inability to swim.

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  14. LAMary said on August 28, 2023 at 9:49 am

    I learned to swim in Peconic Bay. Most of the swimming I did was either out to someone’s boat or off of someone’s boat. My kids both started kiddie swim lessons at the Y when they were four years old. I wanted them to feel comfortable and safe in the water and the instructors at the Y were very good at achieving getting them to that level.

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  15. Mark P said on August 28, 2023 at 9:49 am

    My mother worked in the office at a textile plant, Celanese. They used a lot of water, so they had their own intake from the river where my father swam as a boy, and their own treatment plant. On the way to the plant, the water was piped into a large swimming pool where employees and their families could swim. The water was constantly flowing into and out of the pool, so it was always clean and very cold. There was a fence between the large deep end and a smaller shallow end. To be allowed into the deep end you had to be able to swim across and back. I dog paddled with my father right beside me to pass. We went to the pool most weekends and spent a lot of time in the water, but we never actually swam much. The challenge was to swim from one side to the other under water.

    After they closed the plant I didn’t swim any until I was in graduate school in my 30’s and a bad knee ended my running. Then I swam about a mile every day. I was not good. Sometimes there was a swimmer in the next lane when I got there and when I left, swimming much faster than me.

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  16. JodiP said on August 28, 2023 at 10:19 am

    I learned about the pools being filled with concrete in the last year or 2.

    I went to a Freedom School a few weeks ago to read to the scholars. I offered a book on saving nature or fighting for rights–they chose the latter. It was the story of two friends, one black and one white. (The black boy’s mom was the white family’s housekeeper) When they heard about the law desegregating pools, they were so excited and went to the pool. They witnessed it being filled. The black boy’s dad was part of the crew. I was asked why I chose that book (TBH I didn’t look at what it was as I didn’t have a lot of time to choose from the library) and I talked about how things get better, but we will probably always have to work to keep our rights and to push them further. This is what these young people are taught at the school–the chants they do are amazing and powerful.

    I grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes and took swimming lessons. We were at “the lake” nearly every day in the summer. My dad either bought or made a pontoon boat with 55 gallon drums. There was a little cabin on it to store gear. We had a grill and many fun days on that boat. No life jackets because it was the 70s and we all knew how to swim. Being on the water continues to be a tradition for my nieces and the great-niblings.

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  17. Icarus said on August 28, 2023 at 10:47 am

    I learned to swim at the community pool in a little subdivision* in Streamwood, Il when I was in 3rd grade. By swim, I could stay afloat but couldn’t pass the two laps of the width of the pool to go in the deep end. Next year I just pretended I had and used the high dive whenever.

    They would get everyone out of the water for the last 15 minutes of every hour. I think this was just to give the lifeguards a break.

    Years later in high school I would learn about form and do better, but I’m not as good as my wife.

    *as a city boy I had no clue what subdivisions were other than a song by Rush

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  18. Jeff Borden said on August 28, 2023 at 11:21 am

    I’m about 3/4s through “The Wager” by David Grann, about a famous shipwreck of a British man-o-war in the 1740s, which crashed onto the rocks on the southern tip of South America. It’s a harrowing book. . .hundreds of men succumbing to typhus, then scurvy and then lack of food. What’s striking is how few of the sailors –despite Britain’s extensive naval operations– knew how to swim.

    It’s an incredible book made more so for its basis in fact. It’s about the grueling life aboard a Royal Navy ship and what happens when the crew is stranded on a desolate, barren and very cold piece of land with little in the way of nourishment besides seaweed and whatever mussels, etc. they can scrape up. There are elements of “Lord of the Flies” and “Mutiny on the Bounty” throughout. There’s also a touch of Ernest Shackleton in regards to how resourceful these starving, emaciated and sick men work to escape their harsh conditions and possibly return to England.

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  19. Deborah said on August 28, 2023 at 11:37 am

    Not to change the subject but have any of you gotten the new strain of Covid? I’m trying to figure out if I have it or what. It’s nothing like the 2 times I had it before, but something is up, no nose or throat issues but headache, lightheadedness, gastro-intestinal issues, brain fog, tiredness etc. Something is going around here rampantly in Santa Fe, a neighbor who is going to community college knows around 7 people with it. All of my tests are outdated so if I’m going to test myself I’ll have to go out and get one. Also, I don’t have any fever.

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  20. 4dbirds said on August 28, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    I learned to swim on Army bases. They were fully integrated, and nobody cared as far as I knew. Maybe those who did didn’t go. When I entered the army myself, we didn’t have to be proficient swimmers to graduate basic training, but we did have to go through drown proofing. Learning to float, how to dogpaddle to the edge, taking off your boots, letting them sink, taking off your pants, and while scissor kicking, tying them together, throwing them over your head and using them as a floatie. Of course, someone with no swimming skills would have a hard time doing that, but if they could get them to float calmly for a while, I think that was considered a success. I understand the navy requires swimming proficiency to pass basic training. I made all of my children take swimming lessons and they loved going to the pool. They swam at the home association pool and our neighborhood was also integrated. Reading about how white people tried to stay away from black people and the violence, especially just recently in Jacksonville disgusts and confuses me. I guess I didn’t get that “only white people matter” gene.

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  21. Scout said on August 28, 2023 at 12:44 pm

    Sounds like a fun summer, for sure. And not one I would ever be inclined to do here where sitting in the 110 degrees sun for hours is about as appealing as a root canal.

    I’m so grateful to have grown up in a small suburb near Lancaster PA with a community pool where I learned to swim and then, like all the kids in town, spent all summer on the swim team. I was always tiny and never super speedy but I had/have beautiful strokes. When I was in high school in another small town I was on the school swim team in a place that didn’t have a summer league and I was one of the fastest for the first time. I was also the only one who could compete in the individual medley. Water has always been a huge part of my life, I gravitate to it.

    Judge Chutkan set the J6 trial date for March 2024. This is excellent news.

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  22. Mark P said on August 28, 2023 at 1:12 pm

    The centrally-located “city pool” in Rome, Ga, closed many years ago to be replaced by tennis courts. We never went because we had the much bigger and cleaner Celanese pool. I don’t know exactly when or why it closed. I would not be surprised if it closed to avoid integrating it, but I could be wrong. There is now another city pool located where an old fire station once stood. It’s in the middle of a mainly black area, and close to public housing. The admission is $5, but I can’t tell whether that’s for a one-time pass or a
    season pass. The only other outdoor pool is at a country club. The YMCA has an indoor pool.

    Our Celanese pool closed when the plant closed around 1977. It was filled in. There is no sign of it now.

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  23. Dorothy said on August 28, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    Deborah I’m sorry you are unwell. I don’t know anyone who’s had the latest version of Covid, but I certainly hear the news and know that it’s strongly gaining ground again, and we’ll likely get another booster for it soon.

    I can tread water and swim all right, but I’m not a strong swimmer. I’m too out of shape. And when I was a pre-teen I had a lot of ear infections from going under water so I stopped doing that. And now I’m not sure I could swim under water again. That’s dumb cuz we have this nice pool in our neighborhood now. My granddaughter takes lessons on Sunday mornings and it’s sure paying off. She’s gained such confidence and getting better all the time.

    Happy birthday to our own mild-mannered Jeff!

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  24. Julie Robinson said on August 28, 2023 at 1:53 pm

    Deborah, most Covid tests are good for longer than the original expiration. You can check them here:

    I’m hoping to avoid this strain but concerned about all the big events and traveling this fall. We’re getting flu shots this afternoon, hopefully RSV in a week, and the moment the new vax is approved I’m signing up. Wedding is October 6 and I want maximum immunity.

    Big sis and I had swim lessons every summer, then I was lucky enough to have neighbors build a pool. Now I’m lucky enough to have a pool and the idea of having to share a lane and adjust for others’ speed makes me shudder. Like Suzanne and a different Connie, my poor vision is a huge challenge. I could never read the signs or clock at public pools. And who wants to take their glasses into the swim area, just to risk some bozo sitting on them?

    Happy Birthday to our own Jeff Gill!

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  25. Jeff Gill said on August 28, 2023 at 2:53 pm

    Deborah, best to you, and my regrets — I will be “in the neighborhood,” but going up to Los Alamos from ABQ on Thursday, then at Ghost Ranch from Friday through Monday . . . and I’d thought I’d try stopping in Santa Fe, but realized it’s Labor Day (hence the church’s congregational retreat out by Abiquiu), and Santa Fe is a madhouse Labor Day, correct?

    If you’re curious about how a church’s fellowship hall gets turned into a movie set, there are pictures here on pages 10-12 from “Oppenheimer” and pg. 18 is what I’m doing for that church, out at Ghost Ranch where they built the exterior set for Los Alamos as it was:

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  26. Julie Robinson said on August 28, 2023 at 4:18 pm

    Jeff, that says it’s a Chrome extension, making me reluctant to give it a click.

    We are back from the drugstore, where they gave us both flu and RSV shots. The website wouldn’t let us schedule both, but I asked and she said they absolutely could do both. We didn’t have to enter all our insurance information again either. Win-win.

    Also picked up another case of water. Old timers tell us Orlando has never lost water service in a storm, but it goes along with charging fans and freezing all the ice packs.

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  27. Deborah said on August 28, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    Jeff G, Labor day weekend is when they have Zozobra in Santa Fe, which can be crazy but I haven’t heard much about it this year. Stay away next year for sure, as it’s the 100 year anniversary of it. I will be going out to Abiquiu on the 10th for a memorial service for a friend who died a few weeks ago. I haven’t been to Abiquiu since my husband went back to Chicago. I will need to go to the cabin when I’m there for the service because we forgot to bring something back to Santa Fe that I don’t like leaving out there when no one is regularly going there during the fall season. I leave for Chicago on the 16th, I usually go back earlier in September but I wanted to stay until we get a project done but now I’m not feeling well, although today I do feel better than I have for the last few days. I don’t think it’s Covid afterall, I had been doing a lot of physical labor for a few days and maybe just wore myself out, I have to remind myself that I’m not getting any younger.

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  28. LAMary said on August 28, 2023 at 5:23 pm

    Back when I was swimming in Peconic Bay or Long Island Sound we would fill the bathtub if a hurricane was imminent I don’t recall bottled water existing then. At least not in the local supermarket.

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  29. David C said on August 28, 2023 at 5:25 pm

    I haven’t heard anything more specific on the latest Covid vaccine other than sometime in mid to late September. I went ahead and scheduled my flu and RSV for later this week so I’ll have some space between the two.

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  30. David C said on August 28, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    Papa Francesco sounds like he’s getting ready to take some American bishops to the woodshed and whip some woke Jesus into their hides.

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  31. BellaGP said on August 28, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    What a fun job. In my teens and my college years I was a lifeguard graduating to running 6 pools at a large apartment complex. It was great hanging out and driving a golf cart all around. Made some really great friends that were tenants. I learned to swim before kindergarten and spent all my summers at the local swim club. Swam on the swim team and spent all day and evenings
    at the club with kids of all ages. My sister had a hard time learning to swim. My parents were told that she wouldn’t be much of a swimmer so not expect anything. She ended up with a State record and was one of the first women to get a full athletic scholarship at Miami of Ohio. After she graduated, she didn’t get into a pool to swim (for exercise) for at least 10 years.

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  32. Deborah said on August 28, 2023 at 9:45 pm

    LAMary, the only bottled water I remember as a kid was distilled water for steam irons, I don’t remember if it came in plastic jugs but it must have. We filled up the tub before hurricanes too, as well as every empty jar and bottle we had.

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  33. jcburns said on August 28, 2023 at 10:32 pm

    Julie (and others): I edited Jeff’s chrome extension URL. It’s a real URL now. (Also one of David C.’s).

    (And Julie, you were 100% right to back away from the funky looking URL. Well done.)

    URLs! So…easy?

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  34. Julie Robinson said on August 28, 2023 at 11:00 pm

    Thanks, jc.

    We were given a plastic tub liner but I don’t think we’ll bother. We can get a bucket of pool water for flushing. Storm path is headed away from us although we could still get tornadoes on the dirty side. We’re as prepared as we can be and now we wait.

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  35. Ann said on August 28, 2023 at 11:29 pm

    When I listened to this podcast recently I thought of you

    I spent an hour in Lake Superior this afternoon. Wish I could send you all a photo. Water was 64 degrees. Air ten degrees warmer. Pretty much as good as it gets.

    I was a lifeguard for a couple of summers at a church camp on an inland lake. Since I was the assistant waterfront director I had the deep beach, where everyone had to pass a pretty serious test, so I mostly sat in the rowboat in my white Catalina swimsuit with the Red Cross senior lifesaving patch on the hip and very occasionally rowed over to someone who was getting tired so they could grab on to the boat. Biggest excitement was removing the leeches. We had a box of salt in the lifeguard box but I quickly learned it was just as easy to pluck them off and quickly fling them away. I never did learn to do a confident crawl, however, which kept me from getting my water safety instructor certification. It’s been on my bucket list ever since, but I just read that I’m the age to move things from the bucket list to the chuck-it list and that’s probably where this one should go. (gift link).

    What the heck. I threw a video from today up on Flickr. Doesn’t really show how spectacularly clear the water is, but gives the general idea.

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  36. susan said on August 29, 2023 at 12:15 am

    Medicare doesn’t cover the RSV inoculation. My Part D insurer will cover it after I meet the $505 deductible, which I never reach. So I would have to pay the full $323. So, nope. Such a racket, speaking of racketeering.

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  37. Peter said on August 29, 2023 at 8:38 am

    “Five saves in one day”. I am really impressed. The number of attempts/saves in my lifeguard career – 0.

    There are several swimming schools opening up in our area – Big Blue, Foss, etc. I never understood their appeal – why not just go to the Y?

    There’s a church in Glenview that has its own swimming pool that a Scout troop rents for swimming and lifesaving lessons. It’s where my son went; my best friend learned how to swim there as well, from the same instructor, 40 years earlier.

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  38. Dexter Friend said on August 29, 2023 at 9:43 am

    Mom collected rainwater in a barrel for her iron. The only bottled water was called mineral water and we thought it was poison (or something awful, anyway), usage unknown. I was at Chief Supermarket yesterday and they had a huge pile of cases of water for sale. On the floor were piled maybe 200 cases of bottles of water. Here in the land of the best water out of the tap in the whole fucking world. Montpelier has won that award many times. Their water is from limestone caves, and ours here in Bryan is from artesian wells. Both systems produce great tap water. I empty the bottles in my refrigerator every other day and refill with fresh water. I keep six bottles chilled at all times.

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  39. Little Bird said on August 29, 2023 at 12:25 pm

    Deborah exaggerates my swimming skills a bit. I never really learned to do a crawl stroke, but can do slightly better than just keeping myself from drowning. I can tread water for ages, and should probably start going somewhere with an indoor pool so I can just do that in little corner of the pool. Would probably help with my hip pain. Like Deborah I can also float for ages. It’s weird combination of relaxing and tensing at the same time.

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  40. Mark P said on August 29, 2023 at 1:02 pm

    The drownproofing course at Georgia Tech would not have been a pleasant experience. They tied your hands and feet and required you to pass the test for something like 15 minutes. You would hang in the water with just the top of your head above water and push up when you needed a breath of air. The requirement was still in force when I was a graduate student, but we weren’t required to take the course.

    Not related, but Tech dropped the requirement for a foreign language test for graduate students when I was there, so I missed that as well.

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  41. Julie Robinson said on August 29, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    Susan, I received an email from Medicare that they are covering the RSV vaccination, but a little research says it’s complicated. Right now it’s covered under Part D for drugs, not Part B as other vaccinations are. It’s not on the official CDC list yet either, and when it is they will all have to cover it. For now, if your doctor writes a precription your insurer is supposed to cover it with no copay. The Medicare people charmingly say if’s there any trouble at the pharmacy, to just call them. Hah!

    I don’t think I’d pass that drownproof test although I think I’m a strong swimmer. I also think I’d panic, so maybe I’m not.

    Waiting on the hurricane, have done all our prep so trying to move on with life.

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  42. susan said on August 29, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    Julie, I contacted Medicare via their chat, to find out what’s going on. The chat person said, “Shots—EXCEPT [for] the flu, pneumococcal, hepatitis B, monkeypox, and coronavirus shots—are NOT covered by Medicare as preventive services. However, most shots, including all commercially available vaccines, are covered by Medicare prescription drug plans [Part D]… If you have a Medicare prescription drug plan [Part D], you should contact your plan to see if your shot is covered.” That’s what I did. I have to meet the deductible first before Aetna will cover the RSV shot. Health insurer racketeering needs to go to Georgia.

    I did not know about having my doctor write a prescription for it. Maybe I will try that route, as she did tell me she recommends all her patients over 60 get that shot. I will see what Medicare chat people say about that, too. Thanks.

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  43. Brandon said on August 29, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    A drownproofing reminiscence.

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  44. Deborah said on August 29, 2023 at 8:41 pm

    Julie, stay safe, thinking of you folks down there.

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